Brian Farrey Brian Farrey Young Adult Books Brian Farrey Middle Grade Books Brian Farrey Bio Brian Farrey Contact Brian Farrey Blog Brian Farrey Extras
» The WHO Connection Brian Farrey Books

The WHO Connection

With the new series of DOCTOR WHO starting in just two days, I had started a rather lengthy, rambling post about my lifelong love of the show with a butchered attempt at explaining my fondness.

Then Lis Sladen died.

I looked over what I’d written—an analysis of how gay men tend to be drawn to escapist fantasy and how DOCTOR WHO epitomizes the ultimate getaway—and it didn’t make sense to me anymore. I’m sure a psychologist would zero in on these reasons for my attraction to the show.

But really, I loved the show because of Sarah Jane.

Steven Moffat, the current showrunner, once commented that DOCTOR WHO isn’t about the Doctor. It’s about the companions. They’re our surrogates. We get to live the adventures through them. And while the Doctor has indeed flown solo a few times, he always manages to surround himself with people the audience can identify and sympathize with.

Sarah Jane was the first companion I knew. She was my first connection to the show. Sure, I was thirteen and a sci fi geek and that alone should have drawn me there. But being drawn there and staying there are two different things. And I stayed for Sarah Jane. She was funny. She was flawed. She was clever. She was strong.

Companions came and went like the Doctors but losing Sarah Jane was hard. She’s one of what I call “the tragic companions.” The list is relatively short: Jamie, Zoe, Adric, Peri, Rose, and Donna. Most of the Doctor’s companions left of their own accord. They chose to leave on their terms. Turlough returned to his homeworld, Jo got married, Mel went to explore the galaxy with Sabalom Glitz. The tragic companions didn’t get a choice. They had to leave the Doctor. Their departures tend to hit me the hardest. Largely because it’s obvious that most wanted to travel with the Doctor for much longer. Lis often said how much she treasured her association with DOCTOR WHO and how it brought so much good to her life.  I can’t help but think that, when she passed, nothing pleased her more than to know she was still making children happy playing Sarah Jane, some 30 years after originating the role.

I’ve met a few of the WHO actors over the years but I regret never having met her. The online tributes have been astounding and the one consistent fact in everything people are saying is what wonderful person she was. Sure, everyone says that when somebody dies. But not this effusively. Not this convincingly.

In many ways, I owe my writing to DOCTOR WHO.  But that’s a story for a different time.

Thanks, Lis, for having such a profound effect on my life. When the TARDIS flies again on Saturday, your presence will be felt.

Published in: on April 21, 2011 at 3:53 pm  Comments Off on The WHO Connection